In cities everywhere, a sophisticated cousin of the food court has arrived.
These new food halls often combine communal dining space with artisan grocery shopping. They are incubators for up-and-coming cooking talent, and their adaptable layout means less risk than a traditional restaurant. And they’re attracting throngs of diners who are looking for quality food and fresh ideas.
It’s happening in Portland, in Pittsburgh, in NOLA and in Chicago.
In Chicago, Revival Food Hall, which opened in 2016, has a full bar, a record and book shop, and 15 stalls from popular local chefs and eateries.
In NOLA, St Roch Market also champions local fare. Built in 1875 and reborn in 2015, it showcases local food and goods, some unique to the market such as Casa Periodo Red Wine Vinegar and McEwen & Sons grits. At the bar you’ll find traditional cocktails like Sazerac and Absinthe Frappé as well as original concoctions such as a frozen Mai Tai made with Appleton Rum, El Dorado 5 year, House Orgeat, Lime & Curacao.
Pittsburgh’s Smallman Galley, and their new Federal Galley cousin, both feature four innovative restaurants, bars and coffee. The concept behind these food halls is to cultivate and showcase the best local culinary talent. Four fully outfitted kitchens provide the infrastructure for chefs to bring their concepts to market at low-risk and at low-cost. An 18-month residency gives them a chance to test and refine their menus and to build a following before striking out on their own. This means the Galley will be continually reinvented to feature new talent.
The Zipper, Portland’s entrant to the trend, is a retail concept by Guerrilla Development and was completed in 2015. It has a grocery, four micro-restaurants, a late-night punk rock nail salon, a coffee shop, and a full bar, all of which feed into a common indoor seating area.
And now Small Change is helping the Neighborhood Development Company bring a foodie destination to Washington, D.C. Modeled on The Zipper, 3451 Benning Road in D.C.’s River Terrace neighborhood is designed to have 12,670 square feet of retail space over three levels.
Today, limited food options exist in the River Terrace neighborhood. Residents have to leave the area to get much more than a cup of coffee. Now, whether on a date, having a drink after work, or eating a meal with their families, all their foodie dreams will come true.